The Contributors' Column
THE Atlantic is privileged to publish the last story of Rudyard Kipling (p. 513). Its human implication, its compassion, will recall with nostalgia those pre-war days when R. K.’s pen held more magnetism than any other.
Political correspondent of the London Morning Post,Harold J. Wilson (p. 526) contributes a pocket biography of the young English statesman who must keep his balance at home and abroad.
It is a common accusation that we age our Presidents with overwork. This raises two questions in the mind of William Hard (p. 533). How old is old? And how crushing is the Presidency? Mr. Hard knows the White House as a veteran observer, if not as an inmate.
R. S. (p. 536) is a Massachusetts poet who at bis request shall be nameless.
Mrs. Caroline A. Henderson (p. 540) was married in the spring of 1908. She and her husband have lived ever since on their homestead at Eva, Oklahoma. ‘ At the time of our marriage,’ she writes, ‘I was an exhausted school-teacher, my husband an ex-eowboy, well-driller, and master of various arts of l he big outdoors. Our small savings as the years have passed have gone into the attempt to make a better home and to extend and improve our farm practice. To the original homestead we have added three other near-by “quarters’‘ with about four hundred acres now in cultivation, the rest in unbroken pasture land. Our farm represents about the average of individual land-holdings in this area. Only people like ourselves who have invested their lives in the “short grass " country know the sorrow of seeing these hard-won acres “all up in the air."’
The kid sister in an I rish-American household, Mary Doyle (p. 552) had to pay her way at an age when most of us are in school.
Words are the stock in trade of William Feather (p. 563), nationally known publisher and columnist. He thinks he can spot those which will pull — and those which won’t. Advertisers please copy!
A New England poet (but no relation to her more mature namesake Robert Frost), Frances Frost (p. 570) is now following the progress of her first novel, Innocent Summer.
The health of newspapers means much to Marco Morrow (p. 572), assistant publisher of the Capper Publications.
Roy Palmer Clark (p. 576) teaches school on Pitcairn Island, and steers one of the two longboats that link that community with the occasional ship.
A native of Czechoslovakia, Karel Čapek (p. 579) is a playwright, essayist, and philosopher at large.
Now approaching the thirties, Alan Devoe (p. 581) rates himself as a ’retired bookseller.’ Having spent several years in New York City as a dealer in autograph manuscripts and rare books, Mr. Devoe decided to set up shop in Provincetown. Since then he has moved to Phudd Hill, Hillsdale, New York. bookselling having been exchanged for the sterner trade of writing.
Aged twenty-eight, Jack Yeaman Bryan (p. 583) makes bis Iirst — but certainly not his last — appearance in the Atlantic. Having studied at the University ol Chicago and taken his A. B. and M. A. at the University of Arizona, Mr. Bryan pursued his studies at Duke, where he became an assistant in philosophy. To-day he is a New Dealer in Washington, and in spare moments a writer of promise.
Robert Frost, (p. 593) delights us with a poem characteristic of his Vermont wit. The Atlanlic is fortunate in securing this and other poems in advance of Mr. Frost’s new book, A Further Range, his sixth volume in forty-two years of verse. To those with a sixth sense it will be clear at once that ‘A Further Range’ refers, of course, to the Green Mountains.
We invited Paul Hutchinson (p. 594), Managing Editor of the Christian Century, to give us a character sketch of Toyohiko Ivagawa, and thereby to suggest the significance of this Japanese missionary to the United States.
The anonymous author of ‘Orchids Are Perishable’ (p. 601) looks with clear eyes at a problem which most young married couples cannot avoid.
President Emeritus of Harvard University, A. Lawrence Lowell (p. 606) contemplates not without hope that whirlpool of events so confusing to most of us to-day.
t\ young Harvard graduate now busying himself in real estate Robert Livermore, Jr. (p. 617.) was one of the skiers who represented the United States at the Olympics.
For close to nine years Leland Stowe (p. 623) served as a European correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, being for the most part stationed in Paris. In 1930 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Foreign Correspondence.
J. W. N. Sullivan (p. 629) is an Englishman whose training and explicitness have qualified him as one of the few trustworthy interpreters of modern physics.
‘Stork Expected at Point Harrow,’ the leading paper in the February Atlantic, was an appealing story of human nature under difliculties, and widely read on that account. To those who may be disposed to think that the reticences are not sufficiently respected nowadays, we dedicate this bit of lyrical criticism.
STORK EXPECTED AT POINT BARROW
Of course it was n’t fair to the jade,
To have the news aired in the Blade,
But why not let it stop at that
And be quiet about the coming of the Little brat?
But why discuss what the old stork brings
What you wear and how you look
In concocted kimono or native koshbrook?
And I would make bold to ask her
Why living in that cold Alaska —
Such things should n’t be taboo
Save in the privacy of your own igloo?
Great sympathy one feels for any Oomalik
Far from home, and seriously sick,
But I ’m not only shocked but frantic
At such intimate details in the Atlantic.
Is thoroughly disgusted with ’Stork at Point Barrow.’
(MRS.) BETSY HANSFORD>
From the opposite camp comes this letter of cheer.
Dear Atlantic, —
Since the resurrection of 1929 I have not felt just ified in ‘ taking the bread out of the mouths of babes’ in order to satisfy my own intellectual hunger, so for some years I had no stimulus from the Atlantic. Then in the fall of ‘35 one of my girls got a job with some wealthy people where she was told to get rid of two years of the Atlantic Monthly. Naturally she took the whole stack home, where she knew they would be appreciated, and since then the Atlantic has been the almost daily pièce tie. r&233;sistance on my intellectual diet. When I am tired and discouraged from thinking in the old grooves of my own, I go and take another copy and read one article after another until I come to one that challenges me to study and examine myself — or my own outlook. It happens also that I find my own views expressed so much better than I should ever be able to express them myself.
Lately the fifth of my children, a big strong boy of nineteen, got a job. So, unexpectedly, I found myself with an extra fifty cents in my pocket, and what did I do but go and buy the February Atlantic in order to become up-to-date in my thinking and outlook. ‘Stork Expected at Point Barrow ’ is very vivid and realistic, but stopped short at the most vital point — when the stork arrived. It occurred to me that the reason was that those who have been through it would substitute their own experience, and those who have n’t would not understand.
Albert Jay Nock, with ‘Impostor-Terms,’ made me a young man again by recalling the Sturm and Drang period when I first got acquainted with Bentham through H. Höffiding. It was in Germany in the early winter of 1898. I was working as a machinist from six in the morning to six at night, and then studying five, six, and sometimes seven hours. Ethic, by Harald Höffding, not only introduced to me Bent ham, Kant, Descartes, Spencer, Rousseau, Spinoza, Darwin, Hume, and others, but convinced me that all the theories must be tried out in everyday common family and community life, with the emphasis on the natural and practical.
‘Small Town. by Earnest Elmo Calkins, is a very timely sermon t hat the American people should take to heart, especially the stranded ones. Leave Hell in the big cities and go out in God’s country to live and labor. Mr. Calkins has got much nearer home than in April 1934, w hen ‘ Homesick America appeared in the Atlantic, and has changed his outlook Considerably in the years since I first was attracted by his articles.
HERMAN I, SPOHR Menlo Park. California
Over 2000 ‘Chrysanthemum’ poems have been received, and more are on their way to the Atlantic office. The prize winners w ill appear in the Contributors’ Column for June.
A plea for stick-to-itiveness.
Mr. Johnson O’Connor’s article Failure in School, in the March issue, was of great interest to me. Dealing as I do with small children in a private school, I am continually coming in contact with the child of many apt itudes who, because he has not been given enough to do, has become either mischievous or lazy, and has developed no power to withstand the pressure of competition which comes later. It is one of the aims of our school to develop power and resistance, and inculcate stability, to teach children that there is a satisfaction in sticking to a job and overcoming obstacles. We begin to teach that lesson to our four-and five-year-olds, confident that it will not have, to be learned again when they are eighteen! So much harm can be done by letting children drill into something new the minute their interest in the old wanes, without ever requiring them to finish anything. It is equally harmful to let them feel that results obtained without real effort on their part are ever satisfactory for them, although the same results acquired by a different pupil may represent for that pupil a commendable achievement.
We feel so strongly on this particular subject that we hail with joy such remarks on Mr. O’Connor’s part as ‘lack of early incentive to work is one of the difficulties.’ It is very encouraging to us who work with young children to have a man of Mr. O’Connor s standing and scientific training emphasize the important rôle which correct school habits at an early age play in the later success of the individual. Too many parents take the attitude that the preparatoryschool days are the first that count, when far too often the damage to the child has been done before that time.
HAZEL M. FOWLER
‘The Salvation of Pisco Gabar,’the short story by Geoffrey Household with which the Atlantic opened the New Year, continues to excite speculation.
Dear Atlantic, —
The Pisco Gabar story is fine; but I cannot forgive the old priest for hurling that mule to his death. The donkey turned around. He was short. And the mule would have done the same thing in a different way. When the priest wedged himself between the old mule and the wall, the mule, if given a chance, would have reared up several times until he got perfectly upright and erect on his hind legs, when he would have turned around with his back to the wall and landed on his four feet heading the other way. A mule knows his centre of gravity. Instinctively he understands an emergency, and if the priest had continued to crowd him, he would have either executed this about-face or backed down the trail for a mile. The mule facing uphill will do this; but such a movement is almost impossible for the one coming down the trail. I cannot speak from experience in this matter; but I have heard several Mexicans—and they knew nothing of the laws of gravity — relate this very conduct of mules under similar circumstances. The mule will rear up with a pitiful groan and continue to groan till he has made the turn. For sound judgment, or rather instinct, no domestic animal surpasses the mule. Even Solomon in all his wisdom was not arrayed like one of these.
San Antonio, Texas
It has been no easy matter to referee the argument provoked by Constance Cassady’s ‘Escape from the City.’ From all points of the compass readers have arisen to defend their small home towns from the shafts of her criticism. The floor is now open for rebuttal.
First the author: —
Dear At lantic, —
I think you will enjoy the enclosed letter from the local Herald. It is fairly indicative of the general state of mind here. It may amuse you to know that the whole town is up in arms, with large window displays of Atlantics in all the shops which handle magazines. ‘Read about your town! they scream at passers-by—and everybody does. ‘Escape from the City’ is the only topic of conversation these days, and the indignation has reached such a pitch that my poor husband says he won’ be the least bit surprised to look out the window some night and see a fiery cross burning on our front lawn!
And now the critics.
Dear Atlantic, —
I was born in Middlev ille. To bring it closer home for Constance Cassady , the house in which I was born stands one block removed from the one in which she sought her ‘Escape from the City.’ My grandfather helped plant the elms she describes as ‘tossing their golden coins to the winds.’ My father carried the water used in planting them. After reaching manhood, while a merchant by occupation, he made the town’s administrative affairs his avocation, serving as volunteer fire chief, treasurer, and for seventeen years as a councilman. Can I be expected to hold the same point of view about Middleville as Mrs. Cassady?
Hardly, yet my protest is not that of the angered resident. I no longer live there. My residence in Middleville was continuous until I was eighteen. Then followed four years of intermittent residence while I was attending college. Finally, my work and marriage have taken me completely away save for periodic visits. In the last eight years, I have lived in three truly small towns, smaller than those for which Earnest Elmo Calkins has nostalgia. I have gone rural.
Had Mrs. Cassady done so she might have come nearer realizing her utopia. After all, the Middlevilles are children of the city and, like most offspring, bear some traits of the parents. One has but to consider the Latin derivation of sub to realize that a suburb could not be expected to be something entirely removed from the urban.
Certainly Mrs. Cassady would have found the neighborliness she anticipated had she moved farther from the city. Suburbanites, because of their commuting mode of living, are not intensely localminded. They go to the city for their recreation as well as their work, and everyone minds his own business. No, the rural town, not the suburb, is the niche of neighborliness.
One cannot expect to find neighborliness in Middleville any more than one hopes to find constructive ideas presented and abstract thought indulged in at a bridge party. I, too, have felt the emptiness of mind and fullness of hands at the bridge table, but have learned to expect women to bring only the social niceties to the combative plane of the bridge table. W omen become philosophical, I have found, when knitting needles click or when making, instead of discussing buying, capes for the school band.
Is it fair to judge a school system in the gloom of the last five years? What pressure has not been brought to bear on educators in doling out jobs? What educator has had all the money he desired to carry out the programme he wished? The superintendent of schools in Middleville is nearing his thirty years of satisfactory service there. To one who is a product of his grade system, Mrs. Cassady’s accusations only bring out her pretentiousness. She has never considered his peculiar educative problem.
No, Mrs. Cassady has written, not wisely, but with much thought to her style. Probably she has written too soon. In five years one does not meet the people in Middleville that Mrs. Cassady would like to find. Obviously she is sifting around in the top soil blown in from Chicago so recently. She has yet to be ground down into the strata.
Thirteen years ago, a high-school teacher watching pupils representing every nationality as they passed at dismissal said, in my presence, ‘And to think that I, a member of the D. A. R., am teaching in a community like this.’ But she still is.
Middleville’s business men’s organization once boasted as its booster slogan, ‘ A Good Place to Live In.’ Since population continues to increase, can there possibly be a germ of truth in the statement?
Will Mrs. Cassady find her economic imprisonment too stifling? Yes, unless by ’the grace of God’ she be willing to adapt herself to her environment.
FRANCES GUSTAVISON SARG
Dear Atlantic — and Mrs. Cassady:
Everything that you say about small towns is true, and you might say many more equally uncomplimentary things. I could help you. for I have lived in a small town for fifty years instead of five. But I think that you have n’t lived any place for so long as thatFifty years rather take the fight out of one. (Here I am. writing to Mrs. Cassady and not the Atlantic.)
However, I ask myself if you have said anything about towns, large or small, that we did n’t know already. I thought Main Street and Babbitt the last words in towns and cities.
We have a young woman who grew up in our village, graduated from an Eastern woman’s college, was granted a two-year scholarship in a French university, wrote a thesis, was an editor of a magazine of history exceedingly high in the brow, and is married to a British colonial who represents his native colony in an important European capital. She was at home last summer with her little girl, who speaks German and French as well as English, and whose Continental manners rather awe our Hoosier children. A friend spoke to the mother of her daughter’s ‘unusual advantages,’ and the young mother with tears in her eyes said, ’She will pay for them, and dearly. She has no home. She never will have any dear gir1hootl friends such as I have here, I had rather bring her up in Shawtown. Indiana.’
Dear Atlantic, —
There should be no resentment for sensible criticism of small towns. I should be the last person in the world to contend that such characters as Mrs. Cassady describes are not found in suburbs and small villages. Certainly there is no possibility of escaping the fact that there arc weeks, even months, when the outside view is sufficiently drab. But since when have these characters and conditions been absent from ‘Now York and Chicago’?
As to her neighbors, she might remember the old Quaker, who, when his son wondered what kind of neighbors he should find in his new home, said, ’Thee will find the same kind thee left.’ The incredibly naïve supposition that the ‘ignorant’ villagers believed they had come from a colored quarter, because they had a colored scrubwoman!
I have never before expressed my sentiments in regard to an article, but this time they could n’t be restrained.
Thanks just as vehemently for the wonderful ‘ Glorious Bondage.’
MRS. W. H. TAYLOR Shelbyville, Illinois
Verification of a best seller.
Dear Atlantic, —
I have just read William McFee’s review of The Hurricane, by Nordhoff and Hall. When this excellent story came out in the Saturday Evening Post, I read each installment eagerly and with keen enjoyment. Just one little point seemed to me a weak spot, as if it had been dragged in ‘by the neck’ and did not fit with the rest of the story. I refer to the hiding of Terangi and his wife and family in a cave of t umbled coral blocks, whose only entrance was a submarine one. It sounded a little too theatrical, and not in keeping with my conception of a coral atoll.
So I was much interested to find, in a copy of the Atheneum; or, Spirit of the English Magazines, Volume I, April to October. 1817, the vindication of this incident. In the issue for July 15, 1817, the leading article is an ‘Account of the Tonga or Friendly Islands, by W illiam Mariner, Several Years Resident There,’ which was taken from the British Critic. Mariner recounts a ‘local anecdote’ concerning a native beauty who was unjustly condemned to death but was rescued by her lover, who carried her in his canoe to a near-by island where he had discovered ‘the cavern of Hoonga.’ ‘They soon arrived at the rock, he leaped into the water, and she instructed by him, followed close after; they rose into the cavern, and rested from their fears and their fatigue.’ I apologize to Nordholf and Hall!
JOHN B. MAY
No changes in fashion or usage are effected more quietly than those which take place in the English language. The difficulty, as Lord Dunsany pointed out in the March Atlantic, is to distinguish between growth and decay.
Dear Atlantic, —
May I enter one plea in behalf of modern English? It has been with some dismay that I read Lord Dunsany’s article, ‘Decay in the Language.’ Though, of course, I agree with him in some of his absurd reductions, it does not seem to me that he sees the big underlying cause in its true perspective. Noun-adjective confusion is quite characteristic of English and always has been. Our language is full of such compounded ideas, many of which have gone through phonetic changes which have entirely disguised them. The same spirit which made them will go on making others.
Growth and decay are inseparable processes in any well-matured organism like our English language. When we first find Anglo-Saxon t he process of decay has set in in earnest. The inflections have begun to give way to the use of simple word elements combined in the fashion of isolating languages. Numerous adverbs were combining with nouns to form propositional phrases which crowded out datives and genitives; auxiliary verbs were combining with infinitives and participles to form verb phrases which took the place of inflected verb forms. The entire history of the English language has been that of a language definitely headed away from the niceties of an inflected syntax toward an arrangement of elemental word units.
When we look at modern English we must forget our Latin grammar and syntax, for English is another creature with another nature. English has ceased to have parts of speech; it has only words which serve various functions, and those functions are indicated very largely by position. A word functioning as a noun has lost all of its inflectional adaptation to syntax except the’s of the genitive, or possessive, case. Even this has yielded largely to the use ol the preposition of. Words which function as adjectives have lost all of their ability to concord with the words they qualify. This is briefly suggestive of the whole pattern of growth as we find it manifest in the past history of our mother tongue, whether we like it or not. If we go to the ‘writers of a few decades ago,’ we find lexicographers and grammarians wrestling with the same tendencies which still annoy us to-day, but they could not stem the progress and it has gone on.
It is interesting to notice that many of the combinations typified by Lord Dunsany’s illustrations are of genitive origin. ‘England Eleven Captain Selection Difficulty’ is logically England’s eleven’s captain’s select ion’s difficulty, or, more smoothly, the difficulty of the selection of the captain of England’s eleven. It seems that all tendencies point to the final obliteration of all inflections. I wonder if this nounadjective confusion may not be the swan song of our genitive, or possessive, ease.
The hyphen, of course, is a punctuation mark just like the apostrophe in the possessive. They are both aids to the eye in detecting syntax where there is no voice inflection present. Lord Dunsany is quite right in crying for its careful usage in noun-adjective confusions of newer, unexpected origin, and where the words have not yet become recognized as fused compounds; but why lament the confusion when the majority of English words undergo more or less confusion of function in standard historical usage?
There is no reason to fret and become disturbed about change. The conservative purist has always seen decadence and irretrievable loss in the dominance of common speech which has always asserted itself. Few people would say that the speech of Cicero has lost much by becoming modern Italian, or the speech forms of Beowulf by becoming the language of Shakespeare or Milton. The only real decay is in standing still. The real spirit of a language must march on. As with all growth, the decay will fall away, the new growth will survive only as it finds itself fit and adapted.
Incidentally, just what about Lord Dunsany’s ‘case of six nouns,’ and ‘case where the words “weather conditions” have been written’? Here we have another dunce on the stool quite like his ‘weather conditions’ In this case I think France handed us a lemon, and I think we have squeezed it dry. Can’t we have another confusion, or possibly contusion, which will free us forever of this case?
Again, what is there sacred about the dieresis in the old Latin word aer that it should have a special guarantee of immortality? Who mourns over the fact that we no longer pronounce the k in knife, or the gh in night? What was that special right that our forefathers had to change the pronunciation of words, and that no longer lickings to us? Our slovenliness is no worse than theirs, and, thank goodness, our mother tongue came to us with no entailments which bind us to the whims of our dead ancestors.
EARLE M. PARKER
Northern State Teachers College
Dear Atlantic, —
I had just finished reading Lord Dunsany’s ‘Decay in the Language,’ and even while the ‘England Eleven Caplain Selection Difficulty’ was still jarring through my brain I picked up an article in the Consumer and read: — ‘In the Tennessee Valley to-day, the country is witnessing in somewhat dramatic form the impact of cost return basis electricity marketing upon individual habits. . . .’
And yet— try to say it in a better way yourself!
LEO A. SCHMIDT
Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin